Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Family Communication, 15: 2015 DOI: 10.1080/15267431.2015.1013106


Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC . Used by permission.


This study investigated 898 parents’ and adult children’s reasons for estrangement in light of research on interpersonal attributions and the relational consequences of perspective taking. Three primary categories emerged: estrangement resulted from intrafamily, interfamily, or intrapersonal issues. Within each category, the frequency of parents’ and children’s reasons for estrangement differed significantly from each other. Parents reported that their primary reason for becoming estranged stemmed from their children’s objectionable relationships or sense of entitlement, whereas adult children most frequently attributed their estrangement to their parents’ toxic behavior or feeling unsupported and unaccepted. Parents also reported that they were unsure of the reason for their estrangement significantly more often than did children. Examining estrangement from the perspective of both parents and adult children offers potential avenues for family reconciliation and future communication research.